Media outlets label Obama supporters as 'cult-like'
Hillary Clinton's campaign may be focusing its attacks on Senator Barack Obama by suggesting that the candidate is plagiarizing his speeches. But to the media, another issue may be just as important: the strong base of supporters that Obama has built up in the course of his campaign. And many press outlets seem convinced that Obama's following is less of a movement and more like a cult.
A Tuesday night broadcast on ABC News' Nightline offered an example of behavior it implied might be 'cult-like.' Show host Terry Moran started out the report calling Obama's base "a massive and fervent following." Correspondent David Wright then referred to the supporters as a "congregation," and proceeded to compare Obama events to Bruce Springsteen concerts, and Obama's starpower to that exerted by The Beatles or Hannah Montana. And after showing clips from Obama's various campaign appearances, he interviewed LA Times columnist Joel Stein on how the senator's followers are like a cult.
"It is a happy cult, it's kind of like a [Grateful] Dead show, except better-looking people, it smells a little less, and he plays better music," Stein argues. "If you have to join a cult, this is not a bad one."
Nightline hasn't been alone in advancing this theme.
Last Friday, CNN's Wolf Blitzer also intoned that Obama supporters might be "a little too passionate." Correspondent Carol Costello started out her report suggesting that critics of Obama believe he has started "a cult of personality."
Some humorists have had fun with the suggestions that Obama's base is cult-like. Wonkette's Ken Layne has joked that Obama is a witch doctor who has "the ability to hypnotize young voters."
But the charges of having a "cult-like" base of supporters have taken a more negative tone in place. The LA Times' Stein warned that "Obamaphilia has gotten creepy." And Slate's David Plotz went as far as to suggest Obama's manner of speech was "fascistic."
The following video is from ABC's Nightline, broadcast on February 19, 2008:
The following video is from CNN's The Situation Room, broadcast on February 15, 2008